Landlords have two mechanisms under which they can evict tenants. One comes under s21 of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of possession on expiry of an assured shorthold tenancy) and where the tenant has committed no breach of the tenancy agreement.
The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced two different regimes for serving notices under this section with the most significant area of help for tenants under the Act being that of s33 (preventing retaliatory evictions).
The other mechanism are evicting on specific grounds under Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988. The most common reason for landlords seeking possession is for rent arrears which is provided for by the following three grounds: ground 8 which is mandatory and grounds 10 and 11 which are discretionary. More information on these and other grounds can be found here.
Whilst tenant eviction is not actually recognised within the roles and responsibilities of an RMC Director, as the resident manager of Wellington Mansions I have found myself specifically involved on a couple of occasions in this particular area. One situation was due to Brent Council housing what turned out be an anti-social tenant with drink and drug issues and a very young daughter! They had relinquished their duty of care to her because she was granted an Asssured Shorthold Tenancy and when everything kicked off, the typical response from the landlord was ‘it’s none of my business’.
In fact he also ensured that his e-mil address was no longer in use and so all the e-mails I copied him in as I worked with the managinig agent for Brent Council to get her evicted, all my e-mails got sent back to me marked as ‘undeliverable’.
I certainly did not want to take this route but neither the RMC or myself as as resident mananger didn’t have control of the situation and police were continually seen on the block in relation to her activities. An example of this was when 4 police turned up to the block at the same time, looking for her, hammering on the doors and windows and also knocking on the doors either side of the flat to see if anyone had seen her.
I even contacted the MP for Brent advising him our situation because the tenant wasn’t even placed by our own council.
Eventually I was advised that the eviction process had been started with a ‘Notice seeking Possession’ applied to the county court and served under s8 of the Housing Act 1988 (a mandatory ground under rent arrears), along with 3 additional grounds:
- Ground 12 (any obligation of the tenancy other than one related to the payment of rent has been broken or not performed);
- Ground 13 (the condition of the dwelling-house or any of the common parts has deteriorated owing to acts of waste by, or the neglect or default of, the tenant or any other person residing in the dwelling-house etc.);
- Ground 14a (the tenant or a person residing in or visiting the dwelling-house, has been guilty of conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality). This was certainly the case because the flat was being used as a drugs den.
This was of course ignored so then came the request for a Warrant of Possession which is made by completing the form N325, an application for Bailiffs to attend if the tenant is believed to be continuing to live in the property. The landlord must certify on the form that the tenant has not left the property and, if it is appropriate, that any instalments due under the judgement or order have not been paid.
The bailiffs then serve the warrant on the tenant, both by hand and by post, which gives a date by which the tenant must leave which is often around 5 days time from the date of the letter. If the deadline on the warrant expires then the tenant (along with belongings) will be removed from the property which will then be secured by a locksmith in order for the (former) tenant not to break into the property as it’s a criminal offence.
If the landlord believes police assistance will be required, the bailiffs must be made aware of this 5 days before the eviction date. If police assistance is then not required, then the landlord will need to confirm with the bailiffs that the eviction will still go ahead on that date and no less than 3 days before the eviction date.
It is unlawful for a landlord to take steps to enforce the possession order himself and bailiffs cannot use force.
Tenant Completely Disappears!
After all the effort to get the tenant removed, she disappeared though her boyfriend was seen shinning up the drainpipe to the flat to try and gain access through the broken bathroom window. The police also continued to attend the block looking for sightings of her as this was the last address they had for her and she had warrants out for her arrest. Anecdotal evidence suggests she ended up prostitution and her daughter lives with her grandparents.
So, the flat was put up for sale and eventually sold, but not before two potential buyers pulled out. During that time a new tenant was placed by the same agents and she later received a s21 eviction notice. I assisted her with completing it and also attend court with her where she had the opportunity to present her case. The hearing was in closed court before a judge and as was to be expected, the landlord did not appear, although whether he supplied a witness statement I don’t know. However, the agent did attend. The judge listened, referred to the relevant law and determined that the notice was served incorrectly. Result!